Friday, October 25, 2019

America the Beautiful

Sir Walter Scott wrote:

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
"This is my own, my native land!"
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?

This was obviously not even a question for Katherine Lee Bates.  After a visit to Pikes Peak, CO in 1893, the words to America the Beautiful came to her. They were first published as a tribute for July 4th celebrations and later put to several tunes.

The most enduring tune was composed in 1882 by Samuel A. Ward, an organist and choir director. Just as Bates had been inspired to write her poem, Ward, too, was inspired. The tune came to him while he was on a ferryboat trip after a leisurely summer day and he immediately wrote it down. Supposedly, he was so anxious to capture the tune in his head, he asked fellow passenger friend Harry Martin for his shirt cuff to write the tune on.

This song celebrates not only the beauty of our land, but also the men and women who built our nation—the pilgrims who opened the way, the heroes who fought for liberty and the patriot whose timeless dream "sees beyond the years."  God has given us all three - and has truly shed His grace on America!

America the Beautiful is available on our Joyful Harps Encore! CD or as a download from Amazon or iTunes.

Nearer My God To Thee

Nearer My God To Thee was written by Sarah Flower Adams in 1841. It has a long history of comforting Christians and was even said to be the last hymn played by the band on the Titanic as it sank.

It is based on the text in Genesis that talks about Jacob’s dream at Bethel. Jacob was on his way to his uncle Laban’s house, when one evening he lay down to sleep.

The Bible tells, "Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD. And the Lord spoke to Him there at Bethel and repeated the promise that had been given to Abraham: 'All peoples on earth will be blessed through your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.'"

Today as Christians we can claim this same promise of God’s presence for He has said in the book of Hebrews: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

The words to the hymn are a prayer that God would bring us close to Himself and close to His presence, even if it be through grief or pain. Any suffering that brings us closer to God is a joy. The hymn reads:

Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me
Still all my song shall be Nearer My God To Thee.

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer my God to thee.

There let the way appear, steps unto heav’n,
All that Thou sendest me in mercy given
Angels to beckon me Nearer my God to Thee.

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I raise
So by my woes to be Nearer My God To Thee.

This song is available on our Joyful Harps 1865 CD or as a download from Amazon or iTunes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Our 2018 Christmas Concert Schedule

Christmas in Dixie

15 Boyce Avenue, Greenville, SC
December 7, 2018 7:00-9:00 pm

Come hear a live Christmas concert by Heather & Raquelle on harps and the museum's 1860 piano that came through the blockade! Get in the Christmas spirit with a carol-sing led by Heather & Raquelle. We will be playing harps from approximately 7:00-8:00 and having a carol-sing from approximately 8:15-9:00.

Hanover House - Open House

Clemson University
520 Fort Hill St, Clemson, SC 29634
December 8, 2018 1:00-4:00 pm
Enjoy live music by Heather & Raquelle on harps and the antique Kirkland piano at Hanover House. The Hanover house is over 300 years old and resides on the campus of Clemson University. Tour the house and learn more of South Carolina's upstate history while hearing beautiful Christmas music!



Niteline Show
Channel 16 WGGS, Greenville
December 10, 8:00 p.m.


Heather and Raquelle will be among the featured musicians for a night of Christmas music on local television. We are currently scheduled to be the first set of musicians, so tune in to Channel 16 right at 8:00 p.m. to hear us live! 


Drop-In Concert at Buncombe Antiques Mall

5000 Wade Hampton Blvd, Taylors, SC
December 22, 2018 2:00-3:30 pm
Come and enjoy Heather & Raquelle live while you shop (or just look) at the beautiful antiques! 


Christmas Eve Service

Unity Presbyterian Church
2215 Highway 86, Piedmont, SC 29673
December 24, 2018, 5:00 pm
Enjoy the beautiful Christmas music of Heather & Raquelle in this God-honoring traditional Christmas Eve service. 

Silent Night and the Dawn of Grace

In 1818 the carol "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht" was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria. The congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened as the voices of the assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mohr, and the choir director, Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church to the accompaniment of Father Mohr's guitar.

On each of the six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony. On that Christmas Eve, a song was born that would wing its way into the hearts of people throughout the world. Now translated into hundreds of languages, it is sung by untold millions every December from small chapels in the Andes to great cathedrals in Antwerp and Rome.

Verse three gives us a hint of the whole story. The birth of Christ is not all of the story…it is simply the beginning, the dawn of redeeming grace. When man was created, he disobeyed God’s commands and sinned. Ever since then, all men have been under God’s wrath and deserve eternal punishment.

But, by sending Jesus here to earth, God provided a substitute, someone to bear God’s wrath for us. This is what happened when Jesus died on the cross…He took the punishment that was due.

The story doesn’t stop there…then He rose from the dead, thus conquering death so that anyone who confesses their sin and gives their life to Jesus will also never die. Yes, we will all die on this earth but, if we are saved believers, we will live forever with Jesus in heaven after death.

So you see, the Christmas story is only the beginning of the powerful story of God’s glorious love to condemned sinners and the promise of glorious future with Him forever

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Silent Night is on our Joyful Harps Christmas CD. It's also available at Amazon and iTunes.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Harps at Historic Hanover House

We had such a fun time playing at Historic Hanover House! Located at Clemson University, the house was celebrating its 300th birthday and we were honored to be invited to play.

We enjoyed the beautiful Christmas decorations and absolutely LOVED the old piano! The label on it assured us that the piano maker (Joseph Kirkman) was the Grand Piano Maker for Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. My, we are moving in exalted circles here! :)

We played on our harps as well as the old piano and the many people who came to visit seemed to enjoy it. Just for fun, we not only played Christmas carols from the time period, but also some folk and classical music that would have been played then as well. 

For those who are used to seeing us in our Civil War era clothing, these outfits look a little different! This is "regency" attire - the same date as the old piano (1811-1820). The dresses made us feel so elegant - although they were a trifle cold as the weather that day was in the 30s!

We hope you can come see us live at some of our other gigs this year, but remember that you can always bring us home with you - on CD! :)

We have two Christmas CDs, as well as CDs of historic American music. When people ask us which CD is our favorite, we tell them that we only play our favorite music - so they are ALL our favorites! You'll have to look at the song titles to see which CDs include YOUR favorites!

We hope you have  very merry and music-filled Christmas season!



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Saturday, October 1, 2016

In the Sweet By and By

If you love our version of "Lorena," you will likely also enjoy "In the Sweet By and By." After all, the music was written by the same man!

There's an interesting story behind the writing of this beloved hymn. The lyricist, Sanford Fillmore Bennett, tells what happened. 

"Mr. Webster, like many musicians, was of an exceedingly nervous and sensitive nature, and subject to periods of depression, in which he looked upon the dark side of all things in life. I had learned his peculiarities so well that on meeting him I could tell at a glance if he was melancholy, and had found that I could rouse him up by giving him a new song to work on.

"He came into my place of business [in Elkhorn, Wisconsin], walked down to the stove, and turned his back on me without speaking. I was at my desk. Turning to him, I said, 'Webster, what is the matter now?'


"'It’s no matter,' he replied, 'it will be all right by and by.' 

"The idea of the hymn came me like a flash of sunlight, and I replied, 'The Sweet By and By! Why would not that make a good hymn?' 

"'Maybe it would,'” he said indifferently. Turning to my desk I penned the words of the hymn as fast as I could write. I handed the words to Webster. As he read his eyes kindled, and stepping to the desk he began writing the notes. Taking his violin, he played the melody and then jotted down the notes of the chorus. It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn."

It is said that someone just entering the store stood listening to the impromptu quartet. With tears in his eyes he exclaimed afterward, "That hymn is immortal!"

Our version of this beautiful, comforting hymn is available on Amazon and iTunes as well as our CD "Joyful Harps Hymns."

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

Refrain:
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Carolina In The Morning

"Carolina in the Morning" was written way back in 1922 but it remains a popular song nearly 100 years later! The list of artists who have sung it is long, including Al Jolson, Danny Winchell, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Jimmy Durante, Dinah Shore, Judy Garland and Danny Kaye. It has been featured on shows like "I Love Lucy," "My Three Sons" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

The song was written by Gus Kahn (words) and Walter Donaldson (music), neither of whom lived in the Carolinas, oddly enough! It debuted on Broadway in 1922.

Since we are from South Carolina, we personally think the lyrics are quite appropriate! 

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning
No one could be sweeter than my sweetie when I meet her in the morning
Where the morning glories twine around the door
Whispering pretty stories I long to hear once more

Strolling with my girlie where the dew is pearly early in the morning
Butterflies all flutter up and kiss each buttercup at dawning
If I had Aladdin's lamp for only a day
I'd make a wish and here's what I'd say
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning


Available on "Joyful Harps Encore!" or as an MP3 download.